- The O-1 nonimmigrant visa applies to an alien with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or someone who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
- An O-1 visa applicant must be petitioned by a U.S. company, or a U.S. agent. O-1 applicants may not self-petition.
- It is intended to be for the small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor.
- The O-1 visa nonimmigrant classification is commonly referred to as:
O-1A: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics
O-1B: individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry
- The alien with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, businesses, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim;
- The applicant must demonstrate that he or she is coming to the United States to perform temporary services for a U.S. employer relating to an event or series of events in the area of extraordinary ability;
- The alien’s entry will substantially benefit prospectively the U.S. Often, the substantial benefit criteria is met through the other two criteria.
Evidence for O-1A:
The alien must provide evidence of a one-time achievement (e.g., Nobel), or meet 3 out of the 8 criteria below:
- Evidence of receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;
- Evidence of the membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field;
- Evidence of the published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work in the field;
- Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;
- Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
- Evidence that the alien commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field;
- Evidence that the alien has been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel;
- Evidence of the alien’s employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations & establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
Evidence for O-1B:
The alien must provide evidence of a one-time achievement (e.g., Oscar, Grammy, etc.), or meet 3 out of the 6 criteria below:
- Evidence of the alien’s performance as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements;
- Evidence of the alien’s receipt of national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications;
- Evidence of the alien’s performance in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials;
- Evidence of the alien’s commercial or critically acclaimed successes in the performing arts;
- Evidence of the aliens receipt of significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author’s authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary’s achievements;
- Evidence that the alien commands a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field.
Period of Stay:
- An O-1 visa is initially granted for up to 3 years. Subsequently, it can be extended for one year at a time. There is no limit to the number of extensions that may be granted.
- O-1 visa holders may be admitted to the United States for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before the validity period begins and 10 days after the validity period ends. An extension of status can be filed for beneficiaries in the U.S. whose activities are ongoing.
Change of Employment:
- Change of employment is allowed.
- If there is a material change in the terms of conditions of employment (including an employer), a new nonimmigrant worker petition must be filed with the USCIS requesting an approval of the change.
Family and Coworkers:
- Spouses and dependent children of O-1 visa holders qualify for O-3 visas.
- During their stay in the U.S., the family members may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college full or part-time.
- Individuals accompanying an O-1 visa holder and playing a role in the O-1 performance or activities may be eligible for O-2 visas. Such individuals must show that they have a long-standing work relationship with the O-1 principal, are integral to the performance(s) and have critical skills and experience that cannot be performed by another U.S. worker.